By Liz Shepherd
WARSAW — Through its C.A.R.E.S. responders, Warsaw-Wayne Fire Territory will begin pursuing a mobile integrated healthcare program, which will provide follow-up management for people in need of extra assistance.
EMS Chief Chris Fancil attended WWFT’s Oct. 5 meeting to elaborate on the program. The state of Indiana has started certifying fire departments and EMS to provide this form of healthcare within their communities.
“It is for those people who are not being served by services that are currently available,” said Fancil. “We’ve helped people get wheelchair ramps built. We’ve helped people do safety assessments in their house to pick up loose rugs, things like that that are making them fall. Typically what happens is multiple 911 calls are made…we’ve got one where we’ve been out there (to a location) 25 times this year. The State of Indiana has encouraged EMS to get into (mobile integrated health), meaning they’re partnering with their local facilities, hospitals and mental health providers, to do follow-up visits, to do vaccinations, to do wellness checks, to do home safety visits.”
WWFT’s C.A.R.E.S. responders’ initiatives include assisting those in need of mental health assistance, aiding individuals who frequently contact emergency responders for help, and de-escalating domestic situations alongside law enforcement.
Fire Chief Mike Wilson said WWFT’s first encounters with the individuals they help stem from 911 calls. Those in need of assistance from C.A.R.E.S responders can call the fire territory’s office number during the day at (574) 372-9502.
Fancil said there is grant money available at the state and local levels for the start-up of MIH services. He asked WWFT’s board for permission to pursue the state certification while also beginning conversations with local healthcare providers on a partnership for this service.
“We think it benefits the entire community and both hospital services all at the same time,” said Fancil. “When you go out to a situation, there’s two options traditionally: hospital or jail. That serves no one if that doesn’t help the person. So we’re trying to come up with alternative paths that we can put these people on so that they’re better served by what we’ve got. This community wants to help people, we have a lot of people who are reaching out to help. People don’t know how to get there and we think we can help facilitate that.”
The board approved Fancil pursuing the certification for WWFT.
WWFT also received permission from the board to apply for Indiana Public Employers’ Plan (IPEP) Safety Grants. The territory has applied for funding to cover up to 80% of the cost for the following: Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) training on scaffolding for WWFT members and city employees; OSHA fall protection training for WWFT members and city employees; and a rescue tripod for technical and confined space rescues.
WWFT’s next board meeting is at 4 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 2.